Update: the plot thickens. It might be ALL electoral according to this (link).
News that MTV canceled Enta Horr spread like wildfire over the weekend (link). Speculations about the reason why MTV would resort to such drastic measures regarding one of their most debated TV shows were quick to start. The common denominator turned out to be just one: the never-ending story of the closing of the Dekwane gay club. (link).
Joe Maalouf, in his last episode of Enta Horr, came in against what the mayor of Dekwane did at that night club. Of course, this comes in stark disassociation with the Maalouf who, through his show, caused a Lebanon-gay-scandal of his own a while back with a cinema raid which even led him to sue Gino Raidy, a well-known Lebanese blogger, for the latter’s scathing post against Maalouf. Criticism doesn’t go around well in this country. But who remembers?
A few days after the news of Enta Horr’s cancellation surfaced, Maalouf decided to speak on the matter. And it turned out to be caused by exactly what we thought had happened: MTV’s Gabriel el Murr was displeased with Joe Maalouf’s stance in Enta Horr’s last episode which happened to be against the mayor Dekwane mainly. As a result, he sent out a demeaning letter to Maalouf in which he forbade him from working at the TV station. He then sent security personnel to fire the crew of Enta Horr and forbid them from entering the TV station’s premises again. All of this because Joe Maalouf stood against Dekawne’s mayor Mr. Shakhtoura and his practices. (Source)
I was told the mayor belongs to the Murr’s political line, which makes this even worse: silencing a man because it infringed upon one of the Murr lackeys. So it could be that they were upset Maalouf tarnished his image. He probably didn’t need much help in that. Or it could be that they needed his help in Lebanon’s upcoming elections and didn’t want Maalouf alienating him from them.
At a time when TV networks like LBC label the anal tests as tests of shame in the republic of shame, you have a network like MTV, which flaunts itself to be Lebanon’s most liberal and most sophisticated, banning and stopping TV shows because of a simple opinion that doesn’t even reflect on the TV station negatively. A TV station of shame, indeed.
It doesn’t matter where you stand regarding the rights of homosexual people in Lebanon. It doesn’t even matter where you stand regarding Joe Maalouf and Enta Horr, both of which I’m not a fan. What matters here is that Joe Maalouf’s freedom of speech – his freedom to have an opinion that is entirely his – has been maimed and tarnished by a TV station that had its own voice squashed by Lebanon’s de-facto Syrian presence for years and years.
For a person like Gabriel el Murr who knows how it is to go through years of tarnishing the voices of people, how is him silencing Joe Maalouf on TV any different from those same de-facto officers silencing all the votes that elected him to office? And since when is the mayor of a town so important as to have an entire TV show shut down just because it dared criticize his practices?
As I said before (link), Lebanon is a no-criticism zone. Don’t you dare criticize. There will be consequences.
It’s a sad day when the media of a country, supposedly there to lessen hate and ignorance, continue not only in perpetuating that hate and ignorance but in increasing it. What’s next from MTV or any other narrow-minded TV station in this country? Canceling TV shows just because… No reasons requested whatsoever? Banning journalists because they are not fans of your TV station’s policies? Forbidding reporters from getting airtime because their reporting isn’t always in sync with what you want to get across?
How does this make Lebanon’s journalism and press and media any different from those in countries that we look down on? The mere fact that I get to write this article and cross my fingers that someone out there won’t sue me doesn’t cut it anymore.
I may not like Joe Maalouf. I may not watch his show. But I sure as hell cannot be happy his show got canceled because it made the Murr clan unhappy. Good job MTV. Perhaps they should relabel themselves. That tape they had unzipped from over their mouth back when they relaunched after years of forced closure needs to be glued back. It’s only fitting of their practices and stature.
This is a general state of disgust.